Home' Scoop : Scoop 50 Summer 2009 Contents 76 SCOOP SUMMER 2009
shark attacks (zoned to include Cocos Island and
Christmas Island); 13 were fatalities, 62 injuries
and in 20 no injury occurred.
In the past decade, WA has had an average of
3.8 reported shark attacks per year.
The highest recorded number of cases in one
year was 2004, when there were nine attacks, in-
cluding the fatal mauling of 31-year-old Rocking-
ham man Brad Smith as he surfed at Gracetown.
Since then, there have been two attacks in 2005
(one fatal), three in 2006, four in 2008 (including
the fatal attack on Brian Guest) and, so far this
year, two incidents without fatality.
Of the 38 shark attacks in WA in the past dec-
ade, 13 were the work of wobbegongs, 12 by great
white sharks and 13 by whaler sharks (including
bull sharks and bronze whalers).
The riskiest activity is snorkelling while spear-
fishing, probably because the sharks are attracted
to the speared fish.
And if you think the Swan River is a shark-free
zone, think again.
A species of bull shark, known as the Swan
River Whaler, lives in the river and is known to
move up river and into fresh water to feed on mul-
let and other fish. But according to John's records,
there have been only five known attacks in the
Swan, including the fatal mauling of a 13-year-old
Scotch College boy near the Scotch boatshed in
Peppermint Grove. The last shark attack recorded
in the Swan was 1973. Fisheries do get occasional
reports of shark sightings in the river but patrols
by officers in recent years have not been able to
confirm the presence of sharks.
Since 2004, the number of WA shark attacks
has dropped, probably because of public awareness
of shark behaviour during summer -- the Depart-
ment of Fisheries warns water users to avoid swim-
ming at dawn and dusk, when most fish are feeding
and sharks are likely to be active.
"Every summer the Australian media predicts
possible shark sighting in the coming months and
these predictions will always come true as history
tells us that there are always sharks swimming up
and down all coasts of Australia at this time of the
"If you think the Swan River is free of sharks,
think again. A species of bull shark, known as
the Swan River Whaler, lives in the river..."
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